Live review: Soulive @ the Fox TheatreBy Nate Etter | February 20th, 2012 | 1 Comment »
Jazz-funk trio Soulive kicked off its three-day mini-festival at the Fox Theatre on Friday, the aptly titled “Snowlive.” In addition to three nights of music with special guests JJ Grey and the Hartswick Horns (led by Jennifer Hartswick of the Trey Anastasio Band), the weekend featured a series of musical workshops led by the band and a Sunday performance of its well-received 2010 album of Beatles instrumentals, “Rubber Soulive.”
Friday’s show offered a peppering of the band’s original staples — from the improvisation of “El Ron” to the cerebral odd time of “One in Seven” — but was themed mostly around soul and R&B classics. Hartswick impressed with her vocal range on Aretha Franklin’s “Rock Steady” and the 3-piece horn section brought welcomed syncopation throughout the first set.
After enlisting JJ Grey to take over on lead vocals, the second set saw the band settle in and groove its way through a number of uplifting sing-alongs. Covers included Albert King’s “Born Under a Bad Sign,” Al Green’s “Love and Happiness,” Jimi Hendrix’s “Stone Free,” and a funky encore of the Bill Withers classic “When I’m Kissing My Love.”
The three core members of Soulive have continued to hone their chemistry over the years and complement each other incredibly well. Alan Evans’ stripped-down pocket grooves and brother Neal’s soulful Hammond B3 bass lines lend plenty of room for guitarist Eric Krasno to express his virtuosity. In addition to writing some of the most catchy guitar melodies you will hear, Krasno’s improvisation skills and smooth delivery make him one of the most respected musicians on the jam scene today.
Though no fault goes to the band, Friday’s atmosphere was far from optimal for concertgoers. A capacity crowd left little room for dancing and the sound quality was noticeably faint when compared to other shows at the Fox (especially for those forced to listen from the back).
Soulive will continue its guest-laden performances on Feb. 28 during Bowlive III. The two-week residency at Brooklyn Bowl in New York City will feature the likes of John Scofield, Karl Denson, Questlove, Marco Benevento and others.
Nate Etter is a Boulder-based musician and a regular contributor to Reverb.
Joshua Elioseff is a Boulder based photographer of everything, a self-professed music junkie and regular contributor to Reverb. Check his photos out on Facebook or his website.